On June 4, the Ithaca College community donated more than $10,000 worth of food to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.
The majority of that amount was donated by students through a program created by Gabby Picca, a rising junior, that allowed students to use their unused Bonus Bucks to donate food items to the food bank. Students receive Bonus Bucks from the college and are also able to purchase additional Bonus Bucks at the beginning of the school year as part of their meal plan. Bonus Bucks are loaded onto their school ID cards to purchase items in stores on campus. Some students do not use all of the Bonus Bucks by the end of the school year, which leads to a surplus of money on their cards.
Picca collaborated with Jeff Scott, the director of dining services at Ithaca College; Rick Watson, the director of the Campus Store; and the CEO of the food bank to carry out this operation. The Food Bank of the Southern Tier is located in Elmira, NY, and works with 160 agencies, which include hunger relief organizations, shelters, and food pantries in order to supply food for those in need in local communities.
The food items from this program will be sent to the BackPack Program at the food bank, which is committed to preventing children from going hungry over the weekends or during holidays. Through this program, students in K-12 are given a bag of various healthy food items each Friday during the year to eat over the weekend.
Watson reported that at the end of the donation period, students donated $8,630 in total, which translates into 528 jars of peanut butter, 1,276 boxes of macaroni and cheese, 588 apple sauce snack cups, 528 jars of grape jelly, 528 cans of chicken, and 528 cans of tuna fish.
A separate donation program operated by Ithaca College Dining Services at retail locations across campus raised an additional $2,392 for the food bank, bringing the total donation from Ithaca College to $11,022.
Picca is an active member in many community service organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, HEARD (an organization that provides creative arts to incarcerated males), and Jockey Being Family (an organization that provides support to adoptive families). Picca also serves as a justice for judicial affairs on the Ithaca College campus.
Picca plans to create more awareness for the food donation program on campus and hopes to increase donations, especially leading up to campus break periods in the fall and spring.